A recent report from Harm Reduction International (HRI) highlights how wealthier countries, such as the United States and Europe, continue to provide substantial foreign aid to the global war on drugs, mostly allocated to law enforcement and military efforts.
The HRI calls on governments to “stop using money from their limited aid budgets” to support policies that have a negative impact on people who use drugs.
We know that public health programs that prioritize community and justice are effective and save public funds. Yet governments and donors around the world continue to waste vast amounts of money on funding punitive responses to drugs. https://t.co/zumPT5s8cc #investjustice pic.twitter.com/eLObjJPf9w
— Harm Reduction International (@HRInews) September 14, 2023
The report ” Aid for the War on Drugs » reveals that between 2012 and 2021, 30 donor countries allocated $974 million in international aid to the “fight against narcotics”.
Part of this aid, totaling at least $70 million, has gone to countries that have the death penalty for drug offenses.
As the report notes, in 2021, aid funds were allocated to Indonesia to support a “counter-narcotics training program”, the same year Indonesia issued a record number of 89 death sentences for drug-related crimes. Japan has given several million dollars to Iran to help fund its drug detection dog units, as Iran has executed at least 131 people on drug charges in 2021.
Within a decade, the United States became the largest contributor, accounting for more than half of the world’s funding for the war on drugs, or $550 million. They are followed by the European Union ($282 million), Japan ($78 million), the United Kingdom ($22 million), Germany ($12 million), Finland ($9 million dollars) and South Korea ($8 million), indicates Marijuana Moment.
The war on drugs receives more foreign aid than school feeding, early childhood education, labor rights and mental health care. During the period described in the report, 92 countries received assistance for “narcotics control.” The main beneficiaries were Colombia ($109 million), Afghanistan ($37 million), Peru ($27 million), Mexico ($21 million), Guatemala and Panama ($10 million). dollars each).
“There is a long history of drug policy being used by global powers to reinforce and enforce their control over other populations and target specific communities,” the report reads. “Racist and colonial dynamics continue today, with the richest governments, led by the United States, spending billions of taxpayer dollars around the world to strengthen or expand punitive drug control regimes and related law enforcement measures.
“These funding streams are out of step with existing evidence, as well as international commitments on development, health and human rights, including the goal of ending AIDS by 2030” , underlines the report. “They rely on and empower systems that disproportionately harm Black and Indigenous populations around the world. »
While some countries, such as the United Kingdom, have reduced spending on foreign drug initiatives, others have chosen to increase their funding. Thus, the United States significantly increased its support for the war on drugs early in President Joe Biden’s term.
While the United States is the world’s largest contributor to the war on drugs, the HRI report highlights the fluctuations in these numbers. For example, in 2021, the United States allocated $301 million in aid for “narcotics control,” which is a significant increase from $31 million the previous year. According to the report, Colombia has become the main beneficiary of this aid.